Romans with Maggi Dawn: too good to be true?Updated 6:00AM, Tuesday March 27th, 2012 by Bible Reading Fellowship, Christian.co.uk 1 comment
Maggi Dawn asks if 'no condemnation' is really too good to be true?
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2"
No condemnation. What does that mean? No guilt, nothing to pay, nothing to apologise for, nothing to make up for. It is almost too good to be true—can it really be that simple? Paul really does not qualify his statement in any way; he does not say there is less condemnation than there was before or a gradual elimination of condemnation or, ultimately, we will not be condemned. He says that there is now no condemnation.
How can this be, given that we are still not perfect, still given to flaws and faults? The clue to Paul’s reasoning is in the first word of chapter 8: ‘therefore’. The statement is built on the argument that preceded it, which is that, ‘in Christ Jesus’, we are delivered from death, sin and condemnation.
This particularly Pauline phrase—‘in Christ’—indicates a mystical sense of union. To be in Christ means something more than being with him, known by him, saved by him, loved by him. The kind of unity that operates within the Holy Trinity—a distinctness of person with a complete unity of purpose and nature—has been extended to us through Christ so that we are drawn into the life of God; not subsumed into God, but included in the constant flow of love that is the essence of the Godhead.
Salvation, then, is not a ‘Get out of jail free card’. Neither is it delivered to us as if it were a gift that Christ gives while remaining slightly removed from us. To be saved is to be drawn into the life of Christ him- self, so that, just as he is engaged in the holiness, love and mutual adoration of the trinitarian relationship that already exists within the Godhead, we, by virtue of the fact that we are in him, are also drawn into that relationship. Christ is not condemned and therefore neither are we.
For Paul, salvation is not a transaction that is carried out like a bargain, but a complete change of status.
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Does salvation mean I am now a good person? No, of course not. It does mean that all the condemnation due for my sins, past, present and future, has already been poured out on Jesus. There is now no condemnation left over for me. As for me being less than perfect... That's OK, because He who began a good work in me will surely bring it to completion.
This is the awesome message of God's grace. The Christian is already where he needs to be, with God, seated with Christ in the heavenlies, invited to the very foot of the throne. There is no one single thing I need to do to earn that place. Now that I am there, God has things he wants to change in me and he has some works prepared for me to do, but none of that *earns* me anything at all.
Jesus, having fulfilled all, said, "It is finished!" Hallelujah
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